We are well into an era of unprecedented disruption generated from rapid, intersecting shifts in business, technology, politics and society. But as different ideas, technologies and industries collide – the unknown colliding with the known – new opportunities arise alongside new risks.
This disruption is often caused by unique technological "collisions", confluences of seemingly disconnected disciplines to create a whole new function. Think about the combination of maps and satellite that resulted in the global positioning system (GPS), or the combination of the computer and the car to get the autonomous vehicle.
Individually, these technologies can serve as differentiators between businesses. But their sudden confluence and the resulting new capabilities and benefits have made it difficult for some companies to remain competitive or even relevant.
Below I outline four ways your organization can innovate in the face of disruption:
1. Learn how to survive and thrive through collisions
These collisions are unique not only in their sudden abundance but in the speed in which they occur. There are strategies businesses can adopt not only to survive these collisions, but thrive.
New leaders have emerged in the past 10 years, such as sharing economy startups, social media channels, and video streaming, wearables and crowdsourcing platforms all because they saw these collisions as an opportunity to create new markets.
Other companies are using these collisions to reinvent themselves and upending industries by making “sticky”, unbreakable bonds with consumers. For some large enterprises, this collision of technologies has presented unparalleled opportunities. A good example is streaming movie services overturning the sale of DVDs.
Whether the starting point is invention or reinvention, one proven strategy is to adopt a startup mentality and embrace rather than avoid these collisions to propel a business in the new tech age.
2. Think generationally
We are also witnessing an uprising of millennials and Generation Z; generations of confident, socially-aware, media-savvy youth who believe that they can change the world. According to the World Economic Forum, the global business community is being challenged by millennials who are shifting their business goal to social impact.
These young adults have been raised to know their own value, they expect to be heard, and have the cultural resources and know-how to navigate new technologically-centric social systems and disruptions.
These younger generations were born in an era in which cloud computing, AI, IoT, mobile data communications and the internet aren't new things to be learned but just how things are. As a result, they have an instinctual understanding of the possibilities these collisions present in a way baby boomers may not.
One of the most immediate examples is the healthcare sector. The mindsets, influencers and habits of millennials and Generation Z don't align with traditional models of healthcare delivery, and healthcare organizations must either adapt or be left behind. Policymakers, health care providers and tech companies will need to develop innovative solutions to reframe health as an affordable right for everyone.
3. Adopt collision success strategies
Another approach to learn from in this disruptive business environment is to use new technology collisions to detect unknown opportunities.
Technology is being adapted and adopted by a wider population of people, generating a more diverse representation of data.
The pool of responses creates a more accurate and larger data set. New technological methods should be used to mine this data to better understand customers and identify new opportunities.
But, with consumer data usage and privacy under scrutiny as never before, it will be key to take a thoughtful and responsible approach to their protection.
4. Turn risk into an opportunity
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, assess and exploit the business risk and view collisions as an opportunity.
Older, established companies tend to act conservatively – not acting was always seen as the safer bet than potentially making a wrong decision. But, in this age of rapid shifts and violent collisions, being comfortable with failure, being nimble and agile will be key to innovate. It is these new collisions of technologies that allow new ways to assess and exploit risk.
For future-first organizations resolved to not just compete but succeed in this era of creative disruption, technological collisions do not present a danger to be feared or avoided, but an opportunity to drive innovation and thrive more than ever.